Pride And Prejudice Essay On Marriage

The Importance of Marriage in "Pride and Prejudice" Essay

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Jane Austin ensures that marriage remains a central component to the main plotline throughout the novel. Through the use of Elizabeth as a literary tool, Austen is able to use her in order to portray her own feelings on marriage. In the novel, the opinion that comes through is that she is of the opinion that marriage should only take place on the basis of love. This is evident through the failings of those who marry for something other than love, and Darcy and Elizabeth’s success. The central plot of the novel is revealed quite plainly in the opening sentence

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. However little known the feelings or views of such a man…show more content…

In the exchange, Mrs Bennet’s overzealous attitude towards gossip and the marrying off of her daughters is first revealed. Her attitude however is not reflected in her husband, as Mr Bennet appears nonchalant throughout the entire exchange. Mr and Mrs Bennet are used by Austen to show the reader the result of marrying in accordance to something other than love. During this first conversation, and throughout the rest of the novel, Mr Bennet frequently appears to take pleasure from subtly teasing and mocking his apparently oblivious wife. The enjoyment Mr Bennet gets from this seems to be an attempt by Austen to show the results of marriage outside of love.

The exchange between the two where Mr Bennet’s mocking behaviour is first seen, takes place immediately after the introductory paragraphs. This may not be merely coincidental; as it may be an example of Austen ridiculing what is stated in these introductory paragraphs. Her belief of marriage for love would have went against the norms of the time, but by portraying Mr and Mrs Bennet in this way, she was able to make a fair representation of what she believed marriage outside of love to be.

The failings of not marrying for love are again made apparent by Austen through the account of Lydia and Wickham and their shortfalls. Lydia and Wickham’s relationship was built on a mixture of youthful attraction and naivety. In the letter she sends to Harriet,

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Marriage in Pride and Prejudice

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Austen presents us with several different examples of marriage in
Pride and Prejudice.

‘Austen presents us with several different examples of marriage in
‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Focusing on at least three couples, explore
how each relationship is presented and what you think are Austen’s
intentions.

Throughout ‘Pride and Prejudice’, Austen often refers back to the era
in which it was written and the kind of culture and society that she
grew up in herself. It is also apparent that she sees the character
Elizabeth as an alter-ego for herself, as she is rebellious to the
things expected from her by her family and society in general - in
reality, it would be preposterous to turn down a marriage proposal!
It is evident that Austen did not like the general role that women
took on in the early nineteenth century, with no financial
independence and an expectation to serve the rest of their lives being
a good wife and mother with only the accomplishments such as music and
art, to excite them.

I have first decided to comment on the relationship between Mr and Mrs
Bennet. Mr Bennet clearly regrets his marriage to Mrs Bennet and
realises that he was really only attracted to her beauty and wealth,
rather than her personality. This runs parallel to the relationship
between Lydia and Mr Wickham. Wickham eloped with Lydia only for her
money because he was desperate to leave his debts behind and wanted a
companion to join him in his escape, which resulted in an unhappy
marriage, an arrangement made only to protect the family’s honour and
respect among other acquaintances who would very much have frowned
upon the elopement if it had not resulted in a marriage.

Marriages of that time were rarely for love; they were usually to
ensure financial security, to carry on the family name, connections
and a comfortable home. An example of this is the marriage between
Charlotte Lucas and Mr Collins. She tells Lizzie after her
engagement, “I am not romantic you know. I never was. I ask only a
comfortable home; and considering Mr Collins’s character, connections,
and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness
with him is as fair, as most people can boast on entering the marriage
state.”

Mr and Mrs Bennet’s marriage is presented to us through satire and
condescendence. Mr Bennet, though unhappy with his marriage, has the
upper hand where he can mock his dizzy wife while Mrs Bennet sits
blissfully unaware. Mrs Bennet’s days are solely confined to ensuring
that her daughters are married off to wealthy young gentlemen with
good status and connections, to make sure that when her husband dies

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she is not left with nothing, as their house has been left in the
hands of Mr Collins in the event of Mr Bennet’s death. As a result of
the odd mixture of personalities within the Bennet household, Mr
Bennet had decided long ago to leave Mrs Bennet to herself to worry
about the marital state of her despairing daughters.

“Her father, captured by youth and beauty and that appearance of good
humour, which youth and beauty generally give, had married a woman
whose weak understanding and liberal mind had very early in their
marriage put an end to all real affection for her.” Austen’s
intention for these bad examples of marriage was to show readers that
most marriages of that time were unsuccessful and unhappy with maybe a
few exceptions. This was usually due to couples marrying hastily and
being in lust rather than love, also not really knowing each others
personalities until it was too late.

The most important couple in the book is obviously Elizabeth and Mr
Darcy, and it is evident that Austen’s intention for this relationship
or at least for the character of Elizabeth is and to show that there
were a few women who would not conform to the expectations set by
society. Jane Austen was clearly one of these women. This
relationship set the path for the whole novel, it clearly relates to
the title and gives the whole story a sense of warmth because of its
predictable happily-ever-after ending. Pride and prejudice are the two
main themes in the novel and are shown mainly through the two
principle characters. Both are too proud to admit their faults as
well as their affection for each other and due to Mr Wickham’s evil
scheming, Lizzie is automatically prejudiced against Darcy without
knowing the full truth.

At the first ball at Netherfield, Lizzie is at first rejected by
Darcy, he tells Bingley “She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to
tempt me.” This gives the reader an automatic indication of his
arrogance and initial perception of Lizzie. It then becomes evident
that he does indeed have feelings for her, ‘She attracted him more
than he liked,’ but his pride and prejudice take over. By the time he
does pluck up the courage to confess his true feelings to her, he
proposes to her with a speech declaring his love for her. Lizzie is
taken aback by this but is aware that she does not love him and that
it will have been the second proposal that she had refused. She did
feel penitent for rejecting him, ‘She was at first sorry for the pain
he was about to receive.’ Another reason for her rejection was that
it was rumoured that he was the cause of Mr Bingley not proposing to
her sister, Jane, and when asked if this was true, he affirmed it with
not a hint of remorse, giving Lizzie even more reason to believe she
had done the right thing in denying him her hand. Wickham forced
Elizabeth to believe that Darcy betrayed him with regard to the
clerical living that Darcy apparently was supposed to hand over to
Wickham from his father but didn’t. This added with the prejudice
that Lizzie already had for Darcy, causes her to have an inaccurate
judgement of his character and disregard his affection for her leading
to the rejection of his marriage proposal to her. This is because of
the dissembled remarks made by Wickham in an effort to shame Darcy. It
is after the refusal of the engagement that Darcy writes her a letter
stating that Lizzie had been deceived by Wickham and that in fact
Wickham had endeavoured to elope with Darcy’s sister, Georgiana.

It later became apparent, in the letter written by Darcy to Lizzie
that all the allegations made by Wickham were indeed fictitious and
that his intentions behind preventing the marriage between Jane and
Bingley was because he interpreted Jane’s manor towards Bingley less
affectionate than his and did not want to see his best friend feel
unrequited love for her. Blinded by what Wickham had told her until
the letter, Lizzie then had to decide whether her morals were in the
right place and whether she had let her pride and prejudice get in the
way of a perfectly appropriate marriage..

There is further prejudice felt by Darcy’s aunt, Lady Catherine de
Bourgh, to Lizzie which is another obstacle in the way of their love.
Lady Catherine could only see Lizzie as a young girl who was not
worthy of her nephew’s affection with little to offer a man of Darcy’s
stance, especially as Darcy was to be betrothed to his cousin, Anne de
Bourgh. Austen’s intention for this principle relationship is to
promote the fact that not all marriages were unhappy and only
arrangements made to increase status and security, but that some were
based purely on one person’s love for another.

Another relationship which is an example of this, is that of Jane and
Mr Bingley. With Bingley’s scheming sister, Caroline, their
relationship is rather rocky and unsure with both not knowing how the
other feels until Bingley’s proposal towards the end of the novel.
This was one relationship that everyone (except Bingley’s sisters, of
course) was hoping for, but Darcy put that in jeopardy when he
discouraged a proposal from Bingley because he was not sure if his
strong affection for Jane was given in return. Bingley had longed for
Jane from their initial meeting. He told Darcy, “Oh! She is the most
beautiful creature I ever once beheld!” Jane was just as besotted,
“He is just what a young man ought to be.” And so, against the odds,
they finally proclaimed their love for each other and a marriage was
soon in order, to everyone’s delight. It is the examples of Jane and
Bingley, and Lizzie and Darcy, of marriages that tend to ‘go the
distance’ as they have the strong foundations that a good and healthy
marriage requires. Austen shows us the ‘Love at first sight’ type of
relationship but due to external intervention its course doesn’t run
smooth.

Lydia and Wickham’s marriage was one of disaster from the beginning.
After a sneaky elopement the only option, so as to save the Bennet
family from utter disgrace, was for a marriage to go ahead. A silly
act of lust resulted in both parties experiencing debt and being in an
unhappy marriage. Mr Wickham had already tried to elope with Darcy’s
sister, Georgiana, and had set his sights upon a young lady who had
just came upon a good fortune, Mary King though she refused him. He
then settled for Lydia and then found that the only way to escape his
debts was to force the Bennet family to pay him to marry Lydia.
“Unhappy as the event must be for Lydia, we may draw from it this
useful lesson; that loss of virtue in a female is irretrievable - that
one false step involves her endless ruin.” The Bennets assume that
the Gardiners, Mrs Bennet’s brother and his wife, had paid off Wickham
but it was in fact Mr Darcy as he wanted to do a good deed for the
woman whom he loved - Elizabeth. The reader and Lizzie herself became
aware of this knowledge towards the end of the novel.

So, in conclusion, it is clear that the principle theme of the novel
was marriage and this relates to the importance of it throughout the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Jane Austen clearly intended to
base Elizabeth’s character upon herself as she was a non-conformist
with regard to most of the things that were supposed to have made up
the “accomplished young lady”. Jane Austen herself was indeed very
much similar to the character of Lizzie in which she embedded
knowledge and experiences from her past, these included rejecting a
marriage proposal herself because she was not in love with him and the
only man in which she did love was sent away from her because his aunt
considered her connections too low. All this in her life explains a
lot about the novel and the ideal relationship that Mr Darcy and
Lizzie share.



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